Restaurant Guide: Hillcrest sushi offers savory satisifcation

by Shannon Sneade, Contributor

There are rows upon rows of restaurants to choose from while walking down University Avenue in Hillcrest, but take just one step into Akinori Sushi and your dinner decision will be made. The ambient music and inviting staff is an instant draw into the popular sushi restaurant. At first glance, it appears to be quaint with only bar seating, but inside opens up into a full restaurant with seating for all group sizes.

I decided to eat at the sushi bar in order to observe the full production of the rolls from beginning to end. I chose the seaweed salad and fried calamari with salsa as appetizers, both of which turned out to be superior choices. The refreshing seaweed salad was just what I needed to cleanse my palette after getting stuck into the rut of the meal plan, and it was perfectly seasoned with spices that complemented the dish. Next, I snacked on the fried calamari as I waited for my sushi rolls to be prepared before my eyes. The calamari was fresh and savory with just the right amount of crisp.

The series of rolls started with a classic shrimp tempura roll, thinly sliced and covered with a wrapper for easy pickup, even for amateur chopstick users. The crunchy vegetables inside the roll and the lightly breaded and fried shrimp acted as a nice contrast.

The rainbow roll came next, and I was surprised at how well-prepared this standard roll was. The array of raw fish and avocado topping the roll was the highlight of the dish for me. Dipped in a bit of wasabi and soy sauce, the flavors created a delight for the palette but left me craving more.

Next, I began to get more adventurous with my roll choices, selecting the “Rasta Fari” roll next, appropriately named for its color. This roll had ahi tuna, yellowtail, and a pinch of parsley on each piece, and finely sliced cucumber as the wrapper, all drizzled over the top with a sweet teriyaki sauce.

The chef conceded this was his favorite because of the unique flavor combination, and I would have to agree. Finally, I finished up my assortment of rolls with the Cajun yellowtail roll, which was essentially a standard yellowtail roll sitting in a Cajun seasoning sauce. I was pleasantly surprised with this flavor combination, it was the perfect way to finish off the meal.

The final bill was relatively low as sushi goes, especially because Akinori Sushi’s happy hour is every night from 5:30-7 p.m. There were few options for non-sushi lovers on the menu, but the plethora of specialty rolls gives customers an assortment of flavors to choose from. The atmosphere of the restaurant with the boldly painted red walls, serene music, and satisfied customers is incredibly appealing. While there are many restaurants to choose from in the Hillcrest area, it will be hard to try other places after eating somewhere as delectable as Akinori Sushi.